Whether you’re fresh off a plane from a much anticipated overseas jaunt or you’re craving some culture while keeping closer to home, look to some of the world’s top wineries for help curing that itching wanderlust.
From top class prosecco to crisp rosé and sweet sherry, we asked sommelier Samantha Payne to talk us through some exceptional spring wine classics from key international wine regions so you can tickle your tastebuds while soaking up some spring sunshine.
Take a sensory journey to the hills of northeastern Italy, where this classic prosecco hails from. Extra dry, vibrant and refreshing, it’s stamped with the DOCG stamp, providing confidence it’s top-of-class. “DOCG stands for ‘denomination of control’, and for [an Italian] bottle to have this [label it] means it has to hit a certain level of quality,” Samantha says.
With its clean citrus fruit flavours and crisp acidity, Samantha pegs Calneggia prosecco as a classic ‘all-rounder’ that’s owed a spot at any spring soiree. “It’s bright, it’s fresh and has those nice vibrant, citrus-y notes that you expect in a prosecco,” she says. “It’s fruitful, yet well-balanced – everything you want out of a glass of bubbles.”
Serve it alongside a Friday night charcuterie and cheese board or with a light meal. “It works really cohesively with food [such as] seafood or a chicken and soba noodle salad,” Samantha says. “It’s great to start a meal with, but it’s also a really refreshing wine to drink throughout the whole day.”
Made from merlot grown in New Zealand’s beautiful Patutahi Valley, this crisp, fresh and dry rosé wine belongs at your next spring picnic. “Personally, I prefer Australian and New Zealand rosés [over] the classic French [bottles],” Samantha says. “They tend to be more juicy and fruit-forward, which makes them so much more approachable and able to be paired with food.”
‘The Jules’ rosé is brand new to Australia – and exclusive to Vintage Cellars – and will soon be in “high rotation” on many wine lovers’ lists. “It’s got this incredible strawberries-and-cream juiciness to it [making it] perfect for hot weather drinking,” Samantha says. “Pork and rosé has always been a really classic match – pulled pork tacos with pineapple salsa and fresh slices of watermelon is just perfect for a wine like this.”
Here’s your chance to sample a glass of living history, in the form of a wine produced by one of the oldest wineries in South Tyrol in Northern Italy, the home of white wine varieties pinot gris and pinot grigio. “This is a really well-known, highly-awarded and lauded producer, and it ticks all the boxes,” Samantha says. “The thing I like about pinot gris/pinot grigio is it has all those gorgeous tropical fruit notes, but the acid isn’t too high like with other aromatic wines, such as riesling.”
As we come out of hibernation and into spring, you’ll find this pinot grigio a wonderful match for Indian, Thai and Vietnamese spice. “Even though the wine is very European in nature, it handles Asian spices,” Samantha says. “Coming into spring when we talk about those lighter dishes, such as Thai beef noodle salad or anything with a little bit of chilli and heat, pinot grigio can handle it so well.”
For a real taste of history, you can’t go past a glass of sherry produced in Jerez in Spain, where sherry drinking has been a way of life since 1100 BC. Once the Pedro Ximenez grapes have been harvested, they’re left in the sunshine for at least two weeks to turn them into sweet raisins with higher sugar levels to deliver a satisfying springtime finisher. “Sherry is so undervalued and underrated,” Samantha says. “It can be a bit of an MVP [most valuable player] in food matching.”
If, like Samantha, you’re not typically a fan of dessert wines, you may find your match in this Pedro Ximenez. “If I’m having a sticky date pudding or chocolate cake, it’s got the right hit of sweetness but it also has some brighter, lighter acidic notes that mean it’s not going to be super heavy on the palate,” Samantha says. “Chill it then pull it out of the fridge 20 minutes before drinking. You could even pour it over ice-cream.”
Spring is a sparkling rosé lovers’ natural habitat, and this French rosé works famously as a starter or a full meal match. “Les Gravieres comes from Provence in France where a lot of famous rosé comes from,” Samantha says. “It’s light and pale in colour and has plenty of red-fruited weightiness. [It’s little wonder it] has been dotted on various wine lists.”
Whether you’re tucking into a cheese board or simply pouring an afternoon glass of this Provence wine on its own, Samantha says you’ll find good company in a glass of this grenache-based classic. “I really love drinking sparkling rosé throughout a meal – you get those pretty strawberries and cream notes,” she says. “That fruit characteristic combined with bubbles and bright acidity pairs wonderfully with things like rare roast beef or lamb shoulder, too.”
Most rosé hunters follow a typical must-tick list when perusing the cellar door for a bottle of pink, shooting for something pale and dry with minimal fruit expression. Allow us to direct your attention to this rosé, which effortlessly ticks all of those boxes for your next outdoor event. “This is your beach wine,” Samantha says. “It’s not necessarily your pairing-it-with-food wine because it would be overpowered by food.”
Rather, offer a glass of this French wine to hosts who’ve invited you for a day on their yacht, or pack it for a seaside picnic. “It’s really about drinking something crisp and clean that takes you somewhere warmer,” Samantha says. “It’s your Mediterranean, Provence-style rosé that just screams, I need sunshine and not much else!”
Fresh from the Mediterranean coastline in France, surrounded by the Pyrenees and Cevennes mountains, comes this classic bottle that is equally at home with midweek pizza or a heartier weekend menu. With strong hints of blueberries and blackcurrant, Samantha delights in this grenache alongside spring meats. “It’s juicy enough to handle lamb or beautifully carved skirt steak with a little salsa verdé,” she says of this Debussy wine.
“It’s got plumpness and juiciness; a lighter style of red wine that is excellent chilled. You could cellar it, but with spring and summertime wines, you want to drink it with vitality, freshness and juiciness, so [I’d suggest] saving your cellar wines for autumn and winter when you want those richer flavours.”
For exceptional pinot noir, you can’t beat this New Zealand wine from the South Island. “New Zealand pinot is a classic – everyone knows it; everyone loves it,” Samantha says. “The Mount Difficulty is iconic and I’ve loved it for a long time. The winery sits in the most gorgeous spot, a subregion within Central Otago called Bannockburn at the southern end of the Cromwell basin.”
Such unique geography makes for long, dry cool seasons, leading this pinot noir to develop mocha, brown spice and vibrant cherry flavours. “It’s elegant with gorgeous high-tone raspberry and redcurrant notes,” Samantha says. “The delicacy and lightness makes for really easy drinking – it’s just delicious.”
Don’t miss these fresh overseas arrivals that are ideal for seasonal drinking.
After a cheerful and fun bottle of bubbles? Hailing from Trentino in Italy, this Italian glacial bubbly will hit the spot.
If you’re a rosé drinker, Mezzacorona Mezza di Rosé is an extra dry sparkling blend – made with a selection of white and red grapes, including pinot noir, found in the valleys at the foothills of the Dolomites – that’s bound to please.
Bright in colour with pale pink hues, the flavour is intense, with a fresh and juicy finish that makes for a lively and enjoyable wine.
Keen to experiment with some whites and reds from South Africa? Look no further than Identity Wines, an exciting new project created by the Gabb family of Journeys End Vineyards.
With a pronounced nose of lime, green fig, gooseberries, and hints of herbaceous and mineral characteristics, the Identity Sauvignon Blanc is a perfect match for fans of zesty and vibrant whites and ideal with seafood or creamy dishes.
Also in their white wine family is the Identity Chenin Blanc. Think fresh and fragrant, with flavours of pineapple, melon and passionfruit. Smooth and refreshing, it’s ideal with seafood, risotto and quiche.
For lovers of rich and robust reds, you’re covered too, with Identity Cabernet Sauvignon. Showcasing wonderful aromas of cassis, prunes, and hints of cloves, serve this well-structured wine alongside stews and curry.
Or try the Identity Pinotage, a full-bodied red wine that evokes a sweet dark sensation on the palate with lots of black fruits. Well balanced with silky tannins, it’s a perfect match for ramen and BBQ meats.